BEN: Sayid, there’s still time.
SAYID: Not for me.
Here’s how abc.com explained last night’s episode: Sayid faces a difficult decision; Claire sends a warning to the temple inhabitants. I gotta say, this one through me for a loop. Assuming that Season 6 is still following the character progression from Season 1, this was supposed to be a Sun episode. Also, her name’s practically in the title, so that seemed like a hint.
On the show, Sun and Jin have been apart for three years, and other than the flash-sideways episodes this season (unhappy again), we haven’t seen them together since Season 4. I mean, come on, Eileen – Jin hasn’t even seen his daughter yet. In the early going, I would get impatient with the Kwon-centric episodes; their pre-island life didn’t fit into the interconnected histories that were revealed for everyone else.
Now, I’ve grown to appreciate the Kwon episodes. Their relationship is more emotionally resonant than the Kate-Jack-Sawyer triangle or the tentative Claire-Charlie romance (remember that?) and has provided a nice anchor for the show. Also, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim are terrific actors, so it’s a treat when they get a showcase…
So with my expectations up, I was initially disappointed when it turned out to be a Sayid episode. Don’t misunderstand – I’m a fan of everybody’s favorite Iraqi torturer and breaker of hearts – I’d just built myself up for something else.
My disappointment didn’t last long; Sundown is probably the strongest episode of the season so far. Sayid’s always been a walking contradiction – behind the soulful eyes is a man who is capable of astonishingly brutal acts of violence. Last night’s episode tackled the central question at the core of the character – Is he a good man who has done terrible things, or is brutality simply in his nature?
This week’s flash-sideways had Sayid in Los Angeles visiting his brother Omar and his family. The good news here is that Nadia’s alive. The bad news is that she’s married to Omar.
Even in an alternate reality, Sayid is still tormented by guilt as a result of his past as a torturer in the Iraqi Republican Guard. It is that guilt that led him to push Nadia away and toward his brother.
Meanwhile, Omar has gotten in deep with loan sharks, and asks for Sayid’s help in dealing with them. Sayid refuses, citing his desire to put his violent past behind him. It is until his brother is beaten up and Sayid is abducted that a reckoning comes.
The loan shark turns out to be Kemey, formerly the leader of the Freighter Commandos in Season 4. After some attempts at intimidation by Kemey, Sayid turns the tables on him, killing Kemey’s henchman. Kemey tries to squirm out of it, but Sayid kills him anyway.
A darkness is growing in him, indeed.
This is the first week that the flash-sideways sequences have really paid off in the events on the Island. At the temple, Sayid confronts Dogen about the test he’d undergone a couple of episodes back. According to Dogen, the torture device was a scale for measuring good and evil, and Sayid came up evil. Then they beat the crap out of each other for awhile.
The rest of the time on the Island finds Sayid being alternately manipulated by Dogen and faux- Locke. Destiny versus free will is one of the big themes on LOST, and they pretty squarely let it play out with Sayid last night.
After Dogen tells Sayid that he is evil and would be better off dead, Sayid agrees to go out into the jungle to kill faux-Locke as a way of proving his nobility. When he fails, faux-Locke convinces Sayid that Dogen was setting him up to die, and then quickly sets about recruiting him.
Dogen does a lot of talking in this episode – about his own past as a banker, and about faux-Locke. Dogen characterizes faux-Locke as “Evil Incarnate”, which seems a little on the nose for a show that traffics in ambiguity the way LOST does. Faux-Locke may be Jacob’s polar opposite, but pure good versus pure evil – I just don’t see it.
Faux-Locke makes some kind of deal with Sayid and then sends him back to the temple. Sayid tells everyone gathered there that they can go with faux-Locke and leave the island – that they’re free now that Jacob is gone. Faux-Locke’s need and desire for followers is a little unclear at this point, especially once he goes all smoky and massacres most of the Temple inhabitants. At the end of the episode, Jack, Hurley, Ben, Ilana, Frank, Sun, and Richard seem to be the only ones on the Island left to stand in his way, unless the other Ajira 316 passengers come back into play.
While this episode doesn’t definitively answer whether Sayid is an evil man by nature, he certainly embraces his dark side by the end of the episode, killing Dogen and Lennon before he joins faux-Locke and the surviving Others outside the temple. The episode ended with one of the series’ most haunting images, as Sayid strides through a courtyard filled with flames and corpses, a creepy recording of Claire’s favorite lullaby playing on the soundtrack.
- Looking around the Internet, I seem to be alone in thinking that Christian Shephard is distinct from faux-Locke. I hope this is a case where I’m right and everyone else is wrong, because it’s more interesting if I’m right.
- Another thought from last week – Alternate Jack’s Alternate son is named David. Dave was the name of Hurley’s imaginary friend and Libby’s dead husband. Relevant, or are they just running out of names?
- Why didn’t the smoke monster make friends with Rousseau back in the day? Is it worth trying to retcon something about that now? Also, any chance we’ll see Rousseau and Alex off-island?
- After faux-Locke implies that he can bring back Nadia if Sayid delivers his message, there’s an immediate flash-sideways. Is that what alternate 2004 is – a parallel pocket universe created by faux-Locke for his followers?
- Interesting to see Jin in Kemey’s meat locker. I thought the whole Paik-family-organized-crime thread was going to be left dangling, but it looks like they’ll try and address it here.
- “I’m not the one that needs to be rescued, Kate.” Kate has sort of stumbled into faux-Locke’s crew – now’s the time for Claire to follow through on her promise to kill Kate, right?
- I enjoy bedroom farce on the stage – you know, characters coming and going and just missing each other, but how much longer do we have to wait for the Jin-Sun reunion?
- I’m glad Miles was able to escape with Ilana’s team. I was worried that they were going to kill him off after giving him nothing to do all season.
- Did they really just tell us that Ben is going to die next week in the teaser? ‘Cuz I mean, um, hello? Suspense?
I have 3 big questions about the episode.
Was Dogen right about killing Smokey before he spoke?
Did him speaking give him some control over Sayid, and therefore maybe redemption for Sayid later?
How was Dogen the one keeping Smokey out?
Lost is focusing in on alot of short term questions but I think in the next few episodes we will begin to see the big story play out. Where does Desmond and Whitmore come into play? They have to be big missing pieces to the mystery of the Island. Maybe Des is the one that Jacob wants to come to the Island. Whitmore is the only character left alive with the most knowledge of the island, well maybe besides Richard.
The polarization of the island is happening and its very similar to the way the Losties split between Jack and Locke before. These are the armies that Whitmore was speaking about before.
I believe this is going to be just about being a candidate for Jacob. The conflict on the island will have reverberations for the entire world.
BTW dont think Jacob is the essence of all things good either. Maybe smoky is the good guy???
I wondered about Sayid giving faux Locke time to speak, but I actually agree with faux Locke’s assesment of the situation – that Dogen was trying to get Sayid killed.
How Dogen was keeping Smokey out (wasn’t it the ashes?) is an excellent question, but since it probably has something to do with “magic”, I don’t particularly need the details.
As for the mystery someone coming to the island, #108 on the lighthouse dial pointed to “Wallace”, which means that the best candidate to show up on the island (other than Mickey Mouse) is Veronica Mars’ best friend 😛
Seriously, though – Desmond and Whitmore need to be drawn back into the story before the series wraps up, but the way this show keeps us guessing, I’m not counting on one of them being the cavalry quite yet.
I agree that the conflict on the Island likely has global ramifications, but the polarity between Jacob and the Smoke Monster seems to be more about destiny vs. free will than good vs. evil, so I don’t know that that show will ever spell out “good” and “evil” in direct terms with those two.
I want to write a million things but I only have time for this.
Dogen made an analogy of good and evil being on a scale. He said that “Sayid’s tipped the wrong way.” He didn’t say it tipped the evil way, just the “wrong” way. But if Jacob is evil, the wrong way would be good now wouldn’t it? So I took that as not Jacob’s way and I’m still going with that Moster Locke is the way to go and Jacob is the evil one.
Does that mean that Dogen would have eventually tried to get the other “good” candidates to kill themselves or each other? There’s no way Hurley is tipping toward evil so he must have been on the chopping block given that scenario.
I still maintain that the usual notions of good and evil are reductive in terms of this show – despite all the black and white analogies, I think this is going to come down to shades of grey on both sides.
Also, in terms of Dogen’s comments, that bad guys never think of themselves as “Evil”, so I’m not inclined to read anything into Dogen’s substitution of the word “wrong”.